If you are like me you have lived long enough to have been through disappointment. We actually encounter disappointment often. The disappointment in missing out on an event with friends, or disappointment when your team loses a championship game, or perhaps the disappointment of not winning that latest gadget after standing in line for hours. As much as these can ruin our day this is not the disappointment I want to look at. The disappointment I am talking about is the disappointment that is coupled with grief and hurt. Broken friendships or relationships, a job loss, being let down by a leader you trusted, or a crisis of health that changes the way life looks are just a few ways deep disappointment can take us to a place of great discouragement and pain.
Facing moments of significant disappointment can be revealing. It can reveal what we believe about people, suffering, and even God.
Disappointment reveals what we believe about people.
When a relationship fails to be what we had hoped often there is significant hurt. The investment we gave can feel wasted or worse it can leave us feeling used. In moments like this it is easy to only think of the bad things the relationship brought. But in reality the fact that there is disappointment and even pain is because there was once happiness. Grief is there because there was once joy. Only if we avoid deep relationships can we possibly avoid some of the pain but we will certainly miss out on the joy as well.
We are called to be in relationships. But those relationships are not called to be life for us. They cannot bear the weight of that. We are to find life in Jesus alone. In resting our hopes in Him we are then able to enjoy relationships with people in ways that free them from bearing the responsibility of our happiness.
Disappointment reveals what we believe about suffering.
When life disappoints us our responses expose our understanding of suffering. If we are shocked that things are not going as we had hoped or if we feel utterly confused by the trials we face it may be that we need to expand our understanding of what it means to be called to suffer (1 Peter 2:21). Suffering should not be looked at only through a lens of punishment or opposition. Suffering is a refining agent that makes us more beautiful (1 Peter 1: 6-7). With this view of suffering we can know that the Lord will use disappointment to shape us into a more beautiful person if we allow it. It is good to remember that he is in the fire with us (Daniel 3:24-25). We do not suffer alone.
Disappointment reveals what we believe about God.
When we face disappointment it reveals what we believe about God. Where did you go the last time you were disappointed. Did you call your best friend? Did you call your parents? Did you isolate believing that you were the only one who would protect you from further disappointment? I have done some of those things. Calling on friends and family is not a bad idea (it can actually be helpful) but if that is the only place we go it could point to our belief about who God is in suffering. He someone to run to in trouble. Do you believe He has something for you in this disappointment? Do you believe He will help you? Do you believe that He is an “ever present help” in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1)?
So when life brings disappointment it is important to take the time to reflect on what it reveals. Certainly there is more it can reveal than what is written here but in looking at these things it can begin to reframe how we see things. In this place we are more likely to grow and become stronger in our faith and love toward God as we trust His purposes and follow His perfect plan for us when things don’t turn out how we hoped.